Free GP visits and prescriptions for children under 13 was
the surprise feature of the health announcements in
Health will be allocated $15.6 billion in 2014-15, of which
$1.8 billion was ''new'' spending, demonstrating the
Government's careful stewardship had paid off, Health
Minister Tony Ryall said. However, $412 million of the
''new'' money is from cuts to the sector.
Areas boosted include support for the disabled, home-based
services, elective surgery, cancer treatment, colonoscopy
funding, medical education and health and nutrition
The Green Party released a statement yesterday claiming
health spending would be cut in real terms by $1.8 billion
over three years.
Green Party health spokesman Kevin Hague told the Otago
Daily Times it was unclear where cuts would be made, but
they would be significant.
He predicted increased user-pays charges in primary health
''Those people [needing services getting more funding] will
get benefits, but there will be very substantial erosion of
services everywhere else to pay for it.''
Mr Hague said the Budget was further evidence the Government
was not tackling the obesity epidemic, which he said did not
surprise him, given Mr Ryall's approach to the problem.
The senior doctors' union praised the free doctor visits for
children, but criticised the Government for ignoring the
financial struggle of health boards.
Public hospitals would start the next financial year short by
$98 million, Association of Salaried Medical Specialists
executive director Ian Powell said.
''Overall, the health sector - which includes more than
public hospitals - will be short of $224 million in the
''We know from our discussions with DHBs around the country,
and from anecdotal evidence, that DHBs are struggling to
manage their deficits and operational requirements,'' Mr
The nurses' union labelled the Budget a disappointment for
not addressing issues such as poverty, and the inadequate pay
of some health workers.
New Zealand Nurses Organisation researcher and policy analyst
Dr Jill Clendon said that the union supported free doctor
visits for children, but hoped the funding would be
sufficient to make the scheme workable.
New Zealand Aged Care Association chief executive Martin
Taylor said there was little in real terms for older people
in the ''clever'' election-year Budget.
Mr Taylor said the Government worked out who it had to please
in election year, and awarded them accordingly.
Methodist Mission director Laura Black said the Budget
contained ''mildly positive'' measures.
While the Government was increasingly willing to deal with
the symptoms of poverty, it was not addressing structural
problems, such as a lack of jobs and inadequate housing, she
Free medical visits for children under 13 was a ''great
''It's good for a steady-as-she-goes Budget.''
Southern Primary Health Organisation chief executive Ian
Macara said free GP visits for children under 13 was an
He was delighted to see more money spent on young people,
which generated significant opportunities for health
prevention and education.
New spending (over four years).
-$1.1b for demographic growth and cost pressures.
- $90m for free GP visits and prescriptions for children
under 13, starting mid-2015.
- $110m for 4000 additional elective surgery
- $96m for increased home-based support.
- $40m for exercise and nutrition programme aimed at
- $40m for aged care.
- $112.1m for disability support.
- $6.3m to expand cochlear implant programme.
- $4m for renal transplants.
- $32.7m for cancer treatment, including $8m for
- $17.8m for postgraduate doctor training.